Performance Monday, April 13, 2015 | 7:30 PM

Jordi Savall

The Spirit of the Viol

Weill Recital Hall
Some of the most passionate and personal music of the Baroque was written by French composers who played the viola da gamba. The instrument and music by two of its greatest practitioners, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais, will be featured along with other French masters. Cited for his “soulful sound and seamless phrasing” (The New York Times), Jordi Savall performs this gorgeous music.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • Jordi Savall, Viola da Gamba


  • SAINTE-COLOMBE LE FILS Prelude in E Minor
  • MARAIS "Marche Persane dite la Savigny" from Suite No. 7, Cinquième livre
  • MARAIS Sarabande à l'espagnol from Suite No. 6, Deuxième livre
  • MARAIS Musette and Tambourin from Suite d’un goût étranger, Quatrième livre
  • SAINTE-COLOMBE LE FILS Fantaisie en Rondeau
  • SAINTE-COLOMBE "Les pleurs"
  • BACH Bourrée II from Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, BWV 1010 (transposed to G Minor; with improvisations)
  • MARAIS La musette from Suite No. 7 in G Major, Troisième livre
  • MARAIS Musette from Suite No. 7 in G Major, Troisième livre
  • DE MACHY Prelude in D Minor
  • MARAIS "Les voix humaines" from Suite No. 3, Deuxième livre
  • MARAIS Musette No. 28 from Suite No. 4 in A Minor, Quatrième livre
  • MARAIS Musette No. 29 from Suite No. 4 in A Minor, Quatrième livre
  • MARAIS "La sautillante" from Suite No. 4 in A Minor, Quatrième livre
  • HUME Selections from Musicall Humors
    ·· A Souldiers March
    ·· Captaine Humes Pavin
    ·· Souldiers Galliard
    ·· Harke, harke
    ·· Good againe
    ·· A Souldiers Resolution
  • ANON. The Bag-Pipes Tuning
    ·· A Pointe or Preludium
    ·· The Lancashire Pipes
    ·· The Pigges of Rumsey
    ·· Kate of Bardie
    ·· A Toye
  • TRAD. (Irish) "The Cup of Tea"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "Regents Rant"
  • TRAD. (Irish) "Crabs in the Skillet"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "The Sword Dance"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "Lord Moira"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "Lord Moira's Hornpipe"


Fantaisie en mi mineur (Arr. Jordi Savall after Mr. de Sainte Colombe le fils)
Jordi Savall, Viola da Gamba

At a Glance

The viola da gamba, or bass viol, is often thought of as the predecessor of the modern cello. In fact, however, it is more closely related to the lute than to the violin. During the 17th and 18th centuries, members of the viol and violin families coexisted, but the latter eventually won out, thanks in part to their greater dynamic range. In the 1690s, British music writer Roger North reminisced about his grandfather, who “play’d on that antiquated instrument called the treble viol, now abrogated wholly by the use of the violin.” The old-fashioned viol consort already sounded strange to North’s ears, “being an interwoven hum-drum, compared with the brisk battuta [‘beat’]” of the violin, viola, and cello.

As tonight’s program demonstrates, however, the viol tradition was very much alive and thriving in France and England when North wrote those words. The French viol school, in particular, continued to produce composers and virtuosos of the first rank; Marin Marais, the greatest viol player of his day, occupied a place of honor in Louis XIV’s musical household. The instrument that Jordi Savall plays was made by Barak Norman in London in 1697, another indication that the market for viols and viol music remained strong long after the violin began encroaching on its territory. Much of the solo music written for the bass viol in its heyday, with its dance-like character and elaborate improvised ornamentation, overlaps with the folk repertory of the Celtic fiddlers and harpists represented on the second half of the concert.


An Introduction to Before Bach

Before Bach
This performance is part of Before Bach, and Early Music Instrumental.

Part of